The irreparable loss of Khateeb-e-Akbar

The demise of Professor Mirza Mohammad Athar has left the community saddened. At the age of 79, he was inching towards his valedictory breath in Max Hospital Saket, New Delhi. The 26th of February will be remembered for the irreparable loss to knowledge and man-kind. Thousands of people, students, scholars, including the chief minister of the state Akhilesh Yadav, attended his funeral in his hometown, Lucknow.


An alum of Sultan-ul-Madaris, where he graduated and later mastered persian literature. A teacher and exemplary orator, holding a record for his annual sermons at the Moghul Masjid for the last 58 years in the Limca Book of Records.

Those who lived through the era of his sermons at Moghul Masjid now know that it will never be the same. The fierce defender of righteousness and wilayat of Imam Ali will be cherished for his several teachings on human rights, terrorism, Islamic jurisprudence, critical analysis of ideas and authenticity of historical references.

Fondly known as Athar sahab,  He also stood strong for justice and as the President of the Law Board (AISPLB), He came up with a set of deterrents to counter the marked apathy towards gender issues, particularly rising cases of violence against women and frivolous divorces.

He also worked on applying restriction to those who opt for infanticide and selective termination of pregnancy to rule out giving birth to a girl child. He strongly believed that No one has a right to play God and eliminate a life in the making due to gender bias, and condemned such acts.

Renowned across the globe for his uniqueness in oratory, eloquence of speech and content, He kept himself away from politics during sermons. When he was questioned about the use of metaphors in his sermons, he replied “Ek zamane mein jo Lucknow ki zabaan thi, abhi kareeb kareeb khatam ho gayi hain” and so has humanity, if he understand his last sermon.

His last sermon was on Humanity, where he exhorted Sunnis and Shias, sects that have been at odds, to stop fighting amongst themselves and respect their differences that stem from the disagreement over who took on the mantle of Islam after the Prophet. He further emphasised over and again about fighting intolerance and popularly said “Where kingdoms don’t exist politics does”

Following Saudi Arabia’s controversial execution of cleric Nimr al-Nimr and his three associates, along with 44 others, Athar sahab spearheaded peaceful demonstrations and protest against the Consul General of Saudi Arabia in Mumbai to showcase the apathy and atrocities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, hqdefault.jpg

In the end and through his several teachings, we come to the realisation that the tragedy of living is not dying, but what we let kill inside us, while we live. Athar sahab finally gets to meet Imam Ali, who he defended for over 5 decades.

May his soul be given the highest regards in heaven. Will miss his presence! 😦

Irritations of Life

Everything that irritates us about others can lead to an understanding about ourselves. Sometimes these irritations will not go away until we get to know why they got in our lives in the first place. There is a lesson in everything. You have made a mistake, said the wrong thing, did the wrong thing and now you think:

How did I let that happen? What a (fill in the blank) I am. I can’t believe I did that, If only I could rewind.

This is one of the many million irritations of life, Definitely not a good feeling and we live our lives in irony. We dislike how we feel having just tripped up and then continue to beat ourselves way after the fact. We cause our own suffering, furthermore we forget the fact that the mistakes we make help us grow. So what is Integral to happiness, growth and strength? Contrary to popular practice, it’s not being passive and living in the present. It’s not walking away from the past, It is in fact – making our mistakes the fuel of our awareness and helping us decide on how to act, react and respond in fresh and fruitful way.

If we give them the right direction and allow them, they can bring us closer to happiness, being strong and growing beyond imaginations, away from sufferings. So yes you have to fix it. You have to make your ego beg your wisdom to shape you better, make you stronger and help you grow faster. Simply walking away from the feeling of your unwanted past will not help you attain a happy future. You will be a victim in your head for life and that’s a disgusting feeling for someone who wishes to take charge of life. So accept where you are. You will immediately suffer less. Remember this is merely one moment in time. It only defines you and your worth if you choose to make it a defining moment. and Yes, this human moment has come to find you again, but you’re now higher up and can respond from a different place, literally, figuratively, emotionally, and intellectually.

It will not matter at this point how much wealth you have amassed, how people around you think you are a star, how much potential you have within you to be truly awesome, or how much wisdom you have acquired over the years. None of this will really matter when you are facing the irritations of life. How you have treated your past ultimately decides all. So to tackle this irritation of life, you should Ask yourself: How can I respond from this higher place instead of causing myself pain?

Think it, Say it, Act on it, and let it create your new character.

It is truly liberating to know that we are acting from an intelligent place today versus yesterday.

Woe is not you, Wisdom is.

We need to remember that everything transforms and then adopt a growth mindset. We need to practice the art of forgiving, forgetting and transforming then en-routing our mistakes and irritations in the right direction to shape our future. In the end the character we mould for ourselves should not remember us for the several mistakes we did, the times we got irritated, It should all be lost in the memory dump, what should be left in our control centre as a core memory are the lessons we learned. If we cannot discipline ourselves to do this. Then we will forever remain victims. In the end you should know that what consumes our mind, controls our lives!

We can Fix it, if we ask just 3 questions!

01. Did I cause this irritation? Is it some fault of mine?

02. What negative traits does this reveal in my life?

03. What qualities does God want to develop in me?

and this is the most important one, God brings testing to shape and mould us,
The answer to the second question and a bundled of other necessary traits to fix it,
Those are somethings that God is crafting our personality with.

To conclude, I would like to quote the famous poetry by Linda Winchell

An oyster first forms a pearl,
from the irritation of a single grain of sand.
It’s never placed by mistake inside you see,
it was placed by God’s gentle Loving hand.

Like so many things in man’s own life,
those irritants that we sometimes feel.
No different than the oysters grain of sand
but to us, much more irritating to deal.

God places these grains of sand in our lives
in-order that we all might learn.
To form the pearls we need to form
to place in the crowns, of which we’ve earned.

7 Behaviors Most People Think Are Negative That Are Actually Healthy

The most healthy behavior is simply for you to be authentic. Yet often we avoid our own authentic behaviors thinking they are unhealthy ones. Your own mind and body know what you need. And if you need a reminder why it is important to follow your authentic self, look at these common behaviors which are often considered negative which can actually be healthy.

1. Anger

Anger is something many of us avoid expressing and yet it can often be very liberating. Being angry and expressing it in a healthy way can create powerful and positive change in our lives. Anger is simply a type of emotional energy that rises up in us when we have been wronged and a personal boundary has been crossed. That energy is set out on a mission to dismantle the inappropriate situation that has caused our suffering.

So, learn how to embrace that energy and put it to positive use. When you become angry, examine how you can express that anger in a positive way that will create change for the better. It is when we deny our anger and avoid it that it can turn into more unhealthy ways of being, such as rage or depression. Know that healthy anger is there for a reason, to be your protector and liberator.

2. Being Lost

We are feeling lost when we have lost our sense of direction. Yet when we are lost, it makes us pay attention to the moment and to our instincts. If you have ever been lost in a big city or a foreign land, you likely also made some wonderful discoveries while trying to find your way.

The same is true for life. Be okay with knowing it is the journey that is important, and sometimes in being lost and going down paths we never would have thought to choose we find out things about ourselves that are amazing. We discover unknown talents in ourselves, and meet friends or allies who otherwise would have remained a mystery. Being lost now doesn’t mean you will be lost forever. It simply means you are taking your time in finding your way, and also allowing the world around you to give input into the path which is best for you. Often it is that input we never would have dreamed to ask for that sets us on our true path.

3. Crying

Crying, like anger, is a healthy human emotional response to certain situations. Although few of us would want to be crying all the time, it is important to honor those times in life which may bring us to tears. Those tears can be tears of loss but also of joy. When we cry, it helps our psyche unleash energy that if we were to hold on to may become toxic or make us rigid.

Crying also softens our personalities as well as our appearance to the outside world, letting others know we feel, care, grieve and are effected by the world around us. So, crying not only lets us release our grief and sorrow, but also sends a signal to others that we are open and vulnerable as human beings, making us more attractive as friends and partners than those who never shed a tear for any reason.

4. Being alone

Being alone doesn’t have to be seen in a negative way and often can mean that we are just cutting off some of the not necessary social activities to dive into a deeper level of our being. It’s true that there are some situations where a person isolating themselves might be a reason of concern, but know as well that many of the worlds greatest artists, writers and thinkers found supreme value in solitude to find deeper inspiration and re-ignited their sense of creativity. Sometimes we just need to turn off the external stimuli and be with ourselves.

If you are feeling the need to be alone, trust and honor it. Sometimes a walk by yourself in the park, or even going on a solo vacation can lead to a level of self reflection that completely renews our sense of purpose. In some situations, the most healthy thing you can do for yourself is to be alone.

5. Not listening

Not listening to others may often be seen as an anti-social or even arrogant form of behavior, and yet there are times when you need to just go on your own intuition and be free with what your inner calling is. Keeping your eye on a strong vision sometimes requires you to ignore or tune out those voices who may not understand or be in alignment with that vision. Trust yourself and know that if advice is being given to you there may be some very good reasons not to listen to it.

Not listening can also simply display a level of discernment, as we have all seen those people who listen to what everyone else tells them, and how they can often appear to be captains on a rudderless ship, lacking an internal strong sense of direction. Be wise and know when to listen to others and when not to. If that inner bell says to go on your own gut feeling in spite of what others say, then trust it.

6. Breaking the rules

Breaking the rules at times can improve your life, as well as the lives of others. Rules are made by people, and none of us are perfect. So, trust in your own ability to find the heart behind the rule, and then decide for yourself if that rule promotes the greater good. Most innovations in art, science and society happen because someone stopped abiding by the rules as they were written and had the courage to challenge those rules that were unjust. Some of the world’s great rule breakers were Rosa Parks, Gandhi, John Lennon, and Martin Luther King Jr. Don’t be afraid to be like them.

7. Not fitting in

Not fitting in can be painful and awkward, especially during teenage years, but it can also mean you’re an innovator and that you have something to offer beyond the norm. When we fit in, it is usually because our thoughts, feelings and even our imagination is in tune with our community. Stepping outside that box of what others might expect of us can lead us into a place of not fitting in, but it can also lead us to explore outside the zone of commonly accepted beliefs and thoughts, which is the fertile ground for new ideas and new ways of thinking that beget innovation.

The future never fits nicely into the past, so embrace who you are in the now even if it doesn’t fit in with others. Know that your innovations may forge a new path that others may eventually follow.

**This article was originally featured on, and was written by Brett Bevell.

Beloved Funny Robin Williams Dead

RIP Robin Williams!

So pay attention. This matters, as much as #Iraq and #Gaza. Differently, but as much. Do not condemn those who seemed unmoved by Gaza or Iraq but appear to be paralysed by the death of someone they’d never met. You’re on dangerous, holy ground if you’re with them. With all respect to the “#HonoraryJew” and his decision to end his own life, #RobinWilliams and condolences to his family and all fans, while I express grief and sorrow for the entertainer who made my childhood fun. I cannot help but connect the two issues, since his death, and prior to his death, his support to the State of Israel, I personally think that the survivors of the #ISIS attack in Iraq, Syria and the Gaza, survivors of the #Israel‘s offensive attack should all pause their grieving and mourn the death of the Oscar-winning actor who took his own life this Monday, at his luxury home in the exclusive town of Tiburon, just north San Francisco. Afterall they know how it is to lose a loved one better than anyone else around; After all doesn’t his suicide deserve to be trending all over the media, than the mass slaughter of innocent people.

If anyone of you feel suicidal, please call: 91-22-27546669

#PreventSucide #CondemnSucide #CondemnGenocide #CondemnWar

the only man to be born inside the Kaaba!

Sitting in the state of Texas, at an Islamic center which goes by the name
“Momin” in Irving, on a day that has always been celebrated in the entirety of my life with great joy.

The 13th of Rajab: Some days leave a mark on the coherent account of past, such marks that no events or happenings in the future can overwrite it,  Ali, peace be upon him, the son of Imran, upon whom, be peace too, was born on the 13th of Rajab inside the Holy Kaaba, The black cuboid that is placed on the center of our world map,  A place highly regarded by the entire Islamic world. Muslims, pray facing the direction of the Holy Kaaba, five times a day.

The only man to be born inside this respected, admired and treasured strucutre,. Needs no introduction, There have been oceans of ink written about him, Muslims regardless of their sect, Honor him and the Non Muslims who have studied about him, Take lessons from his teachings.

Today we all gather here to celebrate his birth-day, and remember his teachings, a function which was hosted by the Students of Shaheed Prof. Sibte Jaffar and awe-inspiring poet Mir Takallum, Mir Hasan Mir, Shahid Baltistani, dedicated devotional poems to Imam Ali.

The power of words was translated in to strength and vitality required for sustaining my almost drained physical and mental activity. The last poetry covered the jist of the battle of Khyber which is penned by Mir Takallum was recited by Mir Hasan Mir in a pitch that would penetrate your soul.

Which makes me say that, amongt all the wisdom that Ali has blessed us with, His teaching, at the peak of eloquence.. have raised a generation of philosphers, jurist, poets, chemist, botanist, mathematicians, and while we can go on to write about his wisdom and intellect, Ali in his physical form was just absolute and one, a warrior on the battle field who never saw defeat, well asserted in the battle of Khyber.

His wise words and actions of justice are documented in millions of book, here in this article, It’s a difficult choice to make but I would like to quote one of Ali’s own poetry translated to English,

Your sickness is within you, though you do not realize 
And your cure is within, yet you do not see 
You claim that you are nothing but a tiny entity 
Yet wrapped up inside of you is the greatest universe 
You are the clear book, through whose letters 
All that is secret is revealed and made known. 
So you have no need for anything outside of you 
Your consciousness is within you, though you do not know

The poet Kahlil Gibran said of him:

“In my view, ʿAlī was the first Arab to have contact with and converse with the universal soul. He died a martyr of his greatness, he died while prayer was between his two lips. The Arabs did not realise his value until appeared among their Persian neighbors some who knew the difference between gems and gravels.

If we just reflect on his maxims, His choice of words brings man down to the reality of what he is, As he says, that,

a man who sees through fat (eyes), hears through a bone (ears) and speaks through a lump of flesh (tongue), is a wonderful creature.

He needs to live amongst the people in such a manner that if he dies, they weep over him… If he is live.. they crave for his company..

While remembering my ideal, I wish to send my salutations to the leader of the age, Mohammad al-Mahdi, peace be upon him. and pray for his reappearance.

Losing Sibte Jafar :(


Freedom and justice have been twisted,
as an innocent man has been shot dead, While he motored from the place he shaped future, and personalities, two assailants on a motorcycle fired a volley of bullets at him, from the cruel targeted attack by the crooked clad in shalwar-kameez, we lost a Prominent educationist, a poet, an author, a polyglot and above all a humble and kind human.

Prof Sibte Jaffar the principal of Government Degree College, Qasimabad. All of his dreams and plans forever changed, the joy of life cruelly crushed by hatred, and the cold winds of strife.

In the light of the full moon his family’s life has been turned upside down leaving them lost and sadly alone as they watch from afar the ignorant hate that has ended a good man’s life just because he wouldn’t conform to their idea and school of thought.

All his life, Jafar kept an old motorcycle but you needed to call him only once for help in any personal or academic matter and he would arrive at the appointed place

Jafar’s students too remember him for his simplicity and love for Urdu poetry, especially in the elegy genre. He was well-versed in Urdu, Arabic and Persian. Jafar also authored several books and wrote thousands of marsiyas and nohas.

He was a devoted poet and trained hundreds of students in the art, the slain professor even established an institute to teach the art of writing and reciting elegy. About 5,000 students are enrolled at the institute.

The lost to Humanity is not just of Sibte Jafar, but the very idea he reflected in his poetry, those thoughts he authored, and those lessons he taught.

Lest this does not end with a 3 day mourning.

the year 2012

a lot had been written, spoken and predicted for this year, As we step in the future, and bid farewell to twenty twelve, I thought we should introspect, what this year has given us so far? what is it, that we learnt? and what is it, that we lost?


First and foremost, if you are reading this; it’s obvious the world did not come to an end…and then we realize, There is a lot yet to discover, more to innovate and civilization can only revive when there shall come into being in a number of individuals a new tone of mind, independent of the prevalent one among the crowds, and in opposition to it — a tone of mind which will gradually win influence over the collective one, and in the end determine its character. Only an ethical movement can rescue us from barbarism, and the ethical come in to existence only in individuals.

2012 across the globe, taught us all about bringing change, speaking for our rights, defending the righteous and opposing the oppressor. We saw rational minds, loving hearts, courteous hands, laborious legs, and above all open-source religions.

There were massacres, red deaths and white deaths, wars and rebellions, degrading of moral values, liars and manipulators, fascist and fake, in the end these were all lessons. Year after year, we learn these lessons, and year after another we tend to forget.

As I sit by the sunset on the last Sunday of 2012, I look back in 2012 and then I think of it this way…there is a bank account that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day.

Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would I do?

I say to myself that I would with freedom from any doubts, Draw out every cent, and of course anyone else with a sane mind would do the same?

Now then I relate….Each of us, every single one…  has such a bank.

It’s name is TIME.

Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.

Every night it writes off as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to a good purpose.

It carries over no balance. It allows no over draft.

Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day.

If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no drawing against “tomorrow.”

You must live in the present on today’s deposits.

Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!

I realize, I did not make each second count. But I am certain to treasure every moment I have now! and treasure it more because I share it with some special ones, special enough to spend my time with. And remember time waits for no one.

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is where I live.

tata docomo & it’s stupid policies

I don’t know how more modest could I be, in putting the title to this post.

While respecting the contributions of Tata Group in India’s growth and the positive feelings towards the company’s values and purpose and the deference for the entity, forces me to think of just one problem it has.

The core-values of the group as described in the website above are probably not understood by the employees at the lower level of the chain. The marketing teams and the sale strategist.

I’ll tell you why I am saying this. I have a Tata Docomo Broadband connection at home. Nothing’s bad with their service. I don’t have down-time. It all works perfectly fine. It’s all appreciated, and I say that because they really have NO downtime and good ethical customer support. Now being such a satisfied customer. I still had to disconnect my internet. It was so weird. I was looking to upgrade my Internet plan. As what anyone of you would do. I logged on to the Tata Docomo’s broadband Internet webpage and checked on all the tariff compared them to mine.

Chose my city Mumbai, and there all the tariffs came up.

The stupid policy part as you see, is Monthly rental for existing customer when they upgrade is higher.

The rental for new customers is less. Now this is so stupid. An old customer pays more if he upgrades a plan in spite of having no extra cost involved in changing their plan. The modem and wiring is already done.  As for the new customer he pays less monthly rental.

At first I couldn’t believe, because usually it’s like Old Customers are given better pricing and everything like that. But here the case of was opposite, Old customers were paying more and suffering to have chosen Tata Services earlier than the new customers x_X. That’s so lame.

I called the customer support 022-67908000 and confirmed if that is indeed the tariff. Like how they are always polite, She said yes, sir the old customers have to pay more and I am sorry I can’t do anything about it since It’s a company policy. I still couldn’t believe and I told her to transfer the line to some senior officer rank. This senior officer I spoke too, I told her, Why Do I pay more? You have no extra cost involved in upgrading, the installation is already done. Why do you want me to pay more? She just affirms the company policy.

Isn’t this something weird? Stupid Old Customers find out that they are paying more monthly rental then the new ones. What’s the point here of being loyal to the company services? Instead of benefit, they are looting the old customers.

@TATA Docomo Policy Makers -PLEASE FOR HEAVEN sake! do something about it.

It’s weird to get the connection disconnected and ask for a new one.

Update: 27th June 2012

So a few days after I posted on my blog, I thought I should share the link with Mr. Ratan Tata 🙂

Tweet to Ratan Tata

and trust me, I was not wrong when I said that the chain at the bottom has problem understanding values at times. The Tata Docomo Social Team immediately got in touch with me, and resolved my Internet plan. They also saw to it that the website is fixed with updated plans for everyone. Now that’s really appreciated. Great fix, great work!

The Spiritual Impurity -Corruption

What bothers me is the very simple put question –

Will the Political Class of India ever grow out of it’s childish ways?

If I am to conclude what I witnessed today –It’s a National Shame !

Our parliamentarians, Our chosen and elected representatives, at the stroke of mid-night killed Democracy in all it’s senses.  Just walking down a few quaint  hours/days, Watching those intellectual debates, an orator after orator, then eventually I learn to not only move on but to trust no one -but my self. It will surely save me a lot of pain. I wish I could take the stand of No regrets, No anticipation and be with just this moment -fresh as is. But it is SAD AND DISGUSTING.

Rajya Sabha adjourned sine die.

and how very intriguing -that the chairman of the rajya sabha himself did not know whether the house will go on post midnight or not. I have on occasion glanced through the Constitution, but never in detail lies with me in a large version .. I think I must read it now.

People say that it is better to remain silent, and often abused as spectator, than express and be hauled over the coals.

But isn’t it enough?? Haven’t we witnessed the worse morally degrading thing Live on TV.  What should I say? Lalu and his company safe for another 2 years or something. Because They saved the government today and CBI will spare them now or it was amusing to see Rajeev Shukla, MOS Parliamentary affairs versus Ravi Shankar Prasad (BJP) his own brother-in-law debating or even worse the opposition trying to score a brownie point against the government with no intentions what so ever for making the law. Pathetic!

First and foremost -Does Rajniti Prasad have the right to continue in Rajya Sabha after such a disrespect? and make no mistake, Hamid Ansari, Vice President of India, colluded with the despicable Congress in enacting this murder at midnight. -a true intellectual, a highly respected man, lost much of his sheen today. Very sad…. All the respect I had for Hamid Ansari is lost. I am shocked and disappointed. Whatever reason one will give in the coming days – Numbers, friends or foes scuttle the lokpal bill in Rajya Sabha. We all have seen -What it actually was.

With all due respect for the opposition. You have scored no brownie points.

Your intentions are even more loud and clear.

And a matter of fact that none of you deserve to be there.

Neither of you represented what Indians actually wanted.

Now when I sit and rationalize about the events I witnessed,

I go through those books of understanding and lectures on the peak of eloquence.

In philosphical, theological and all moral discussions, corruption is indeed spiritual or moral impurity.

The abuse/misuse of the power, position or office that one holds for personal gains. At the end of the day…. You don’t realize that being corrupt might serve you a short term personal gain… But destroy your long term gains.

Corruption takes the form of contrasting a pure spiritual form with a corrupted manifestation in the physical world.

In fact, an understanding will regard this physical world as inevitably corrupt.

I wish the parliamentarians attended the Lectures on Spirituality by Dr. Shabeeb Rizvi @ Mohammad Vakil’s house, They would have understood with certitude that their souls are dead and corrupted because of their actions and enactments.

In fact, I think it’s a good idea, If we all send to our parliamentarians a minimum of 10 sayings on corruption and degrading ones soul and the ultimate cause of the human beings quoting them from Nahjul Balagah -the peak of eloquence and other books that have covered this in depth.

“Piety is the only cure for wickedness of your heart. It is the Divine Light to expel darkness of your heart. It is a remedy for your ailing mind. It is the only way of improvement for your corrupt soul. It purifies your conscience. It brings back sight to the eyes blinded by ignorance of truth.” -Nahjul Balagha, letter no.198.

the wanderlust logs

It’s the period between late afternoon and night. The daylight is decreasing, and I stumble exhausted to my father’s apartment, into the rent-free room that he has so graciously provided me. Then I flake off all the stuff on me -my wallet, cell phone, the itineraries and pocket full of sketch-notes.

The sense of an eventful journey being complete. One that gives meaning to the days ahead. Lot of the experiences solidifying as thoughts in my mind. The paradox of introspection. The realization of wasted time, while I rested on my laurels.

Far from it now, determined with burnished might. I undress with excessive speed and get under the shower, close my eyes and let my mind slip away…. Feel the warmth of every drop. As I get relaxed and gently open my eyes… my mind wanders between the heavens, the combat zones, the curfews and not to forget the stinky cat shit!

I am going to be really brief in this blog-post.

There is this one lust I have, that made this travel possible. The lust for knowledge, fantasizing about it ever since I remember. The motive of my trip was to understand how much time do I really need to invest in gaining the knowledge I truly desire. Too soon conclusively understand, that I cannot confine it to time, the knowledge is enormous and the opportunity cost of the emotional force that is directly associated with my thinking is exorbitant.

When I read through the travelogue I penned during my 60 day journey. It seems indescribable of the experiences I had there. I’ve done my best to capture what I saw and learned. But yet to experience these places, remains first hand.

the travel itineraries: Iraq- Najaf, Karbala, Samarra, Balad, Kufa, Baghdad, Kazmain, Hilla, Mussayab, Iran- Qom, Mashad, Nishapur, Tehran AND AFTER GETTING BACK… the places I visited indefinite number of times before —also looked disparate.. Dubai, Sharjah, Delhi and Allahabad…Some sort of transformation in my vision. Every time I spoke to someone or saw something around, I started to wear that person’s shoe to understand his feelings. All of a sudden I got several eyes looking at one particular happening or object with numerous perspective to it.

This is one of the key reason why I feel that the travelogue I wrote is indescribable of the experiences. Because more than what I really felt and witnessed from all those gifted eyes, It talks about the places and history and it’s importance. So my travelogue is more of the scheduled itineraries and the rituals with the routine I had. I’ll keep that away. I am sure most of you are aware of the significance these cities hold on map. Herein I’ll talk about a few observations instilled to the core of my brain.

22nd June, 2011 -Afternoon @ Najaf Al-Ashraf- The City of Knowledge:

As I am on my way to the Hotel, from the Najaf Airport… All I see around is broken car windows..partially demolished colonies, curfews and barricading throughout the highway, check post checking on my nationality, visa and passport almost every 5 kms. I observe that the city is under strict vigilance, to which my driver informs me -that it’s not just the city of Najaf; but the entire nation of IRAQ. I felt as though, I am on the battle ground far from urban areas. The roads deserted, shops and offices shuttered in a way that suggest they have been out of operation for several days.

As I advance closer to my hotel, which is about 50 meters away from the Holy Shrine of Imam Ali ibne Abi Talib (a.s.). My eyeballs get glued, eyeful and overwhelmed as I sight the golden dome of his shrine. The external shape of this dome is unique as there is no other mosque or shrine in the world that matches it. Characterized with its cylindrical base, and entirely plated with kilos of gold which increases its prestige and significance. The most technically accurate and architecturally coordinated and spectacular in sight. I must say that there is not any building in the world more precious than this.

So attractive, indeed a head turner. I only stopped to gaze at it when the driver was restrained at yet another check-post. This one does not permit the car to go any further. So with all my luggage, I dismount to cover a distance of 300 meters -walk-able.

I notice that even the urban area is highly scrutinized. In the midst, the people entering the radius of the shrine are being frisked. Luggage being checked and sniffed. Electronics not allowed. So mobile phone to be submitted at a counter outside.

I truly appraise the security arrangement. With Al-Qaida announcing a 100 attack plan in Iraq to avenge Osama’s death. All the people should cooperate with the military and security forces. This is all going to take some while, The life of the citizens being restored back to normal. They being provided with basic necessities like electricity and water. Life is really a struggle for the people there now. Do remember them in your regular prayers.

As I checked in to the room, My host followed with the travel plan. He suggested I get fresh and have dinner and then we would start with the journey early morning next day…

After Dinner, I called my cousin who is schooling there in the Howza Ilmiya. Over the days of my stay in Iraq, I Spoke to him about my plans and got introduced to a few of his faculty and friends. Understood the way Howza Ilmiya functions. This is where I was learning to look from several different eyes. They were all telling me the possibilities, the pros and cons, personal experiences, fears of the uncertain environment, the perceptions and opinion of other people, the truth, the life, the ridicule, the future, the dark, the bright, the hope, the loneliness, the solitude. Everything they could tell me.. Making me ponder on the decision I had to make and the impact it would have.

I also met Ayatollah Sheikh Basheer Hussain Najafi, In a very precise manner he made his point to me as humbly as it could have been. His charismatic face was trying to explore my mind, Where in he suggested I meet him again to discuss in better. Since It was approaching Salat time and several people were waiting to get his glance.

I did not get a chance to meet him again. But the brief point he made was enough and to my contentedness.

Exploring Najaf…… To be Continued